Backwards compatibility, the implementation that makes it so that gamers can play games from their previous console on their new consoles, is something of a dying breed. Of the last generation consoles the Wii was the only one that had 100% backwards compatibility. The Playstation 4 had backwards compatibility at first. Its original launch model could play any previous Playstation game, while the Xbox 360 could only play select Xbox games. Backwards compatibility could return to the next generation of consoles, but in a different form.
Recently, Gamespot posted and interview with Microsoft Senior Director, Albert Penello, in which he claims that in the future of the Xbox One it could achieve backward compatibility via cloud emulation. Sony also said that through their cloud based service could also achieve backwards compatibility via cloud based emulation.
What does this mean for the gamer? This means that the future of backwards compatibility will be paying for games that the gamers might already own physically, buy digitally. This model has been tested with the current generation of consoles with the HD remakes of last generation games that have sold well, with many of the previous generation’s favorite games repackaged and resold with achievements and a high definition touch up. Sony and Nintendo have started something similar with the emulation of selling older games their respectable online stores from their back catalogs unaltered from their original versions as well.
The possibility of a future with cloud based backwards compatibility is exciting, the possibility of playing games from the systems that are almost twenty years old is alluring but what price will Sony and Microsoft sell these classic gems for and when?